Friday, February 17, 2012



Vatican City, 17 February 2012 (VIS) - This morning, in preparation for tomorrow's consistory, the members of the College of Cardinals and the new cardinals-elect met in the Vatican's New Synod Hall for a day of reflection and prayer, presided by the Holy Father. Benedict XVI had called the day at the beginning of this month.
According to a communique made public today by the Holy See Press Office, the Day began with the celebration of Lauds, followed by an introductory address by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals. The main theme of the day - "the announcement of the Gospel today, between 'missio ad gentes' and new evangelisation" - was introduced with a long talk by one of the cardinals-designate: Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York. He was followed by Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, who delivered a report on the forthcoming Year of Faith, and its significance in the light of the Apostolic Letter 'Porta fidei'. He also outlined a series of initiatives for the Year, currently being studied by various dicasteries.
The participants in the day of reflection and prayer then rose to speak and the morning session concluded with the praying of the Angelus guided by the Holy Father. The meeting will continue this afternoon, following the celebration of Vespers at 5 p.m.

Vatican City, 17 February 2012 (VIS) - Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. has sent a telegram, in the name of the Holy Father, to Bishop Roberto Camilleri O.F.M. of Comayagua, Honduras, for the fire which broke out in the city prison on 15 February, causing the deaths of 355 people and injuring scores of others. The text of the telegram is given below:
"His Holiness Benedict XVI, deeply saddened by the painful news of the conflagration in the 'Granja Penal' of Comayagua, which caused so many victims, raises fervent prayers to the Almighty for the eternal repose of the dead. At the same time, I ask Your Excellency to communicate the Pope's deepest condolences to the families of the deceased, accompanied by assurances of his spiritual closeness and his hope that those injured in this lamentable incident will make a speedy and complete recovery. With these sentiments the Supreme Pontiff, while invoking the loving protect of Our Lady of Suyapa, affectionately imparts the comfort on an apostolic blessing as a sign of consolation and hope at this time of distress. Giving assurances of my own prayers for everyone affected by the tragedy, I take this opportunity to assure you of my fraternal affection".

Vatican City, 17 February 2012 (VIS) - On 13 February Archbishop Francis Assisi Chullikatt, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations in New York, participated in the Fourth Session of the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
"With other States and the various actors of the international community, the Holy See shares the view that the principal objective of the Treaty should not be merely the regulation of the conventional arms trade but should be, above all, the disarming of the international illicit market", said the archbishop speaking English.
"An unregulated and non-transparent arms trade due to the absence on the international level of effective monitoring systems causes a series of humanitarian consequences: integral human development is retarded, the risk of instability and conflict is heightened, the process of peace is placed at risk and the spread of a culture of violence and criminality is facilitated. Responsible action, shared by all the members of the international community, is necessary to resolve such problematic realities. This includes States and international organisations, NGOs and the private sector".
"The international community requires a strong, effective and credible legal instrument that is capable of regulating and improving transparency in the trade of conventional arms and munitions, including the trading and licensing of technologies for their production".
As a guarantee of this, Archbishop Chullikatt identified five aspects to be taken into consideration:
"(1) The scope of the ATT should be broad, comprising not solely the seven categories of arms which the UN Register of Conventional Arms considers, but also small arms and light weapons, together with their relevant munitions".
"(2) The criteria for application of the Treaty must maintain reference to human rights, humanitarian law and development. These are the three areas in which the impact of the illicit market in arms is particularly pernicious".
"(3) The capacity for the success of the Treaty will depend also on its ability to promote and reinforce international cooperation and assistance between States".
"(4) Provisions relating to assistance for victims must be maintained and, if possible, strengthened, giving attention also to the prevention of illicit arms proliferation, by reducing the demand for arms which often feeds the illicit market. It seems opportune, from this perspective, then, to introduce references in the Treaty to educative processes and public awareness programmes".
"(5) Mechanisms for treaty review and updating need to be strong and credible, capable of quickly incorporating new developments in the subject matter of the ATT, which must remain open to future technological developments".


by Bernardo Cervellera
The bishop of Hong Kong underlines the importance of the Church of Hong Kong in helping the Church in China. "Working together with Card. Zen (Hong Kong) and Card. Shan (Taiwan). The importance of the Vatican Commission in implementing the guidelines of the Pope's Letter to Chinese Catholics (including the rejection of the Patriotic Association, "incompatible with Catholic doctrine"). Sorrow for bishops and priests who have disappeared in police custody or in labour camps.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Hong Kong Bishop John Tong Hon, 72, is among the 22 prelates who will receive the cardinal's hat from Pope Benedict XVI tomorrow. In an interview with AsiaNews he describes himself as "unworthy" of the position to which the Pope has called him, but "full of gratitude for this honor," that Benedict XVI has bestowed on the Chinese Church. Currently there are three Chinese cardinals including Msgr. Tong; Card. Joseph Zen (Hong Kong) and Card. Paul Shan (Kaohsiung, Taiwan). Msgr. Tong says they can "work together", especially in strengthening the role of the Church as a bridge between Chinese Catholics and the Universal Church. Msgr. Tong has followed events in China for decades. Member of the Vatican Commission for the Church in China, he has a positive view of the Commission's work which in a few years has succeeded in spreading the Pope's letter to Chinese Catholics and increasingly reconciling official and underground communities. He emphasizes that Benedict XVI's Letter clearly states that the Patriotic Association - a control body over the Church - is to be rejected because it is "incompatible with Catholic doctrine and the Catholic structure."

For the cardinal-designate diplomatic relations between the Holy See and China are not of primary importance and should not absorb all the energies of the Commission.

The cardinal-designate shares AsiaNews' concern for imprisoned bishops or those who have disappeared in police custody, but he confesses to have a softer approach towards the Chinese authorities: we must first establish a "good relationship" and then express our concerns. In any case, we must "never erase these our brothers from our memory". AsiaNews has already published a lengthy interview with Card. Tong, when he became ordinary bishop of Hong Kong (see: 30/04/2009 Bishop John Tong of Hong Kong, "man of dialogue" but with "non-negotiable principles"). Here is AsiaNews' full interview with Msgr. Tong, released hours before he receives the cardinal's hat:

Card. Tong, how do you feel about this new responsibility that the Pope has given you?

I feel very unworthy of this position. But I am also grateful for this honor. I have no reason to deserve this: it was a decision of the Holy Father who wants to show his appreciation for the Church in China. It is a real encouragement for the Church of Hong Kong, which will continue its role as a "bridge church" for the faithful of mainland China.

Card. Joseph Zen of Hong Kong is 80 years of age, and Card. Paul Shan of Kaohsiung (Taiwan) is 90. Both are no longer an active voice in a possible conclave. Your appointment as cardinal shows that the Pope does not seem to want to do without a voice of the Chinese Church among the cardinals.

Having three contemporary Chinese cardinals makes us deeply grateful to the pope for his attention towards China. The three of us working together. Moreover, it does not matter if others are retired or not and there is no problem with being elderly. We can benefit from an older person's wisdom. Card. Zen is still working hard and with determination, and we respect his opinion and his wisdom.

Moreover, Chinese culture exalts the figure of the elderly as those with greater wisdom of life ...

We all want to capitalize on their experience. No matter how much they say, what is important is the quality of what they say. Even one word can be invaluable. Card. Shan is very committed to evangelization in Taiwan and even now holds retreats, conferences, meetings. And the same can be said of Card. Zen, with his personality full of strength and enthusiasm. He goes to Europe, America, returns to Hong Kong and after a night spent in the plane is ready to meet people, teach, etc. ... Is it really too much for me.

How does the Church of Hong Kong function as a "bridge church" with the Christians on the mainland? How will you work in this area now that you are a cardinal?

I must say that the Church of Hong Kong is not only clergy, but also by lay people: we are a community and we are all church, from the person at the top to the very last Catholic. Now that the Chinese have a little 'more freedom, there are several Chinese priests and groups of faithful who come to visit Hong Kong. For several years now we have organized a team for their "welcome", to welcome them and let them visit our communities, our catechesis centers. In this way we can show them how we catechize catechumens, the content of our teaching. If they are people who are studying theology, seminarians, priests, religious, we invite them to visit a convent or seminary, so they can compare their experience to ours. In this way they learn from us and we learn from them. It is also a way in which we try to update them on the life and teaching of the Universal Church. Once there were different personalities in Hong Kong who went to teach in China, and now there are less. But today there are more people who come to Hong Kong. In fact there is a two-way exchange. Hong Kong now, rather than a Bridge-Church, can be considered a sister-Church to China. We do not know what harvest all of this sowing will yield, but hopefully it will be an abundant one.

You have long been a member of the Vatican Commission for the Church in China, which has existed for almost 5 years. In your opinion, what results have been obtained in recent years regarding the evangelization of China and the resumption of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Beijing? What will your contribution be now as a cardinal?

The Commission has produced many results. The group was formed after the pope issued his Letter to Chinese Catholics in June 2007. In the autumn of that year the Commission was launched. Our work is closely linked to that letter, which gives guidelines on how to address certain issues in the life of the Church in China.

The letter consists of two parts. The first is Catholic doctrine and structure of Church life. And in this regard, it states that the Patriotic Association is incompatible with Catholic doctrine and the Catholic structure. In addition the letter informs the Government that the Church has no political aims or interests, but encourages its members to improve their nation and make an active contribution to society.

The second part deals with the formation of priests, nuns and laity. We all need an education and formation that does not stop at the seminary, but continues even after. We should continue learning throughout our lives. In all these years, the Commission has achieved several good results. First, we published a Compendium to more easily explain the contents of the Letter, highlighting its most important aspects. Secondly, we tried to help people really get that message and, thirdly, to put that message into practice. We have also received questions on how to implement the directives of the Letter. We will collect and present these to the Commission to try to find answers illuminated by the Spirit and approved of by the Pope.

As for diplomatic relations between the Holy See and China, it must be said that this element is only part of the overall issue. First of all we must act on our way of life; diplomatic relations come after this and can not absorb the whole picture.

By participating in the Commission I have learned a lot and I'm grateful to the Pope for giving me this opportunity. Another result achieved is better and more fraternal relationship between the official and underground communities. There are still tensions and attacks - especially on the part of the underground community - but they are very small compared to the past.

There have been improvements in diplomatic relations. Perhaps we should pray more to encourage the government to accept a dialogue.

Before the Lunar New Year, AsiaNews made a request to the Chinese government to release some bishops and priests that have disappeared in police custody or have been sentenced to hard labor without charge or trial. We received no response neither from the Beijing government, nor the Chinese embassy in Rome. The Church of Hong Kong has asked many times for their release. What can we do for our persecuted brothers?

I too share your concerns for the fate of our brothers, especially the two elderly bishops, Su Zhimin and Shi Enxiang. But I have a different approach from yours. I would try first to improve my relationship with the Chinese authorities. Once we have gotten to know each other and established a good rapport, I would begin to express my concerns about the imprisonment of these bishops. For example, in 2008 I was invited to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. I told them I was very happy to have been invited and that the Olympics were a great opportunity of glory for our nation. Once we established a minimum of mutual trust, I told them that being Catholic, I was worried about the Chinese bishops in prison. And I explained to them that this fact is not good for the nation. If these bishops are allowed to enjoy full freedom and respect for their human rights, they could make a major contribution to the nation. At the same time, with their release, China may enjoy the highest of reputations in the international community. We should also pray a lot for these our brothers and never erase them from our memory.


Thursday 16 February 2012

23-02-p13-Fr-Goodwin-350By Fiona Basile
Kairos Catholic Journal

AFRICA may be a long way from Australia geographically, but it is not so far that staff and students from St Joseph's Catholic Primary School in Malvern are not willing to lend a hand.

Over the past two years, staff, students and parents have been sponsoring a little girl called Ellie, who attends the School of St Jude in Tanzania. The program has gone so well that they now sponsor another school called St Mukasa's, in Uganda, which is still being built.

Teacher Marta Lukaitis said, "What started in a couple of classrooms has now blossomed into a whole school initiative. It is now not the staff running the program, but the children.

23-02-p13-Fr-Goodwin-2-350"Our dream at St Joseph's is to instill a sense of compassion in our students and encourage them to get involved in helping others in need from a young age."

The students recently welcomed their own special guest from Uganda, Fr Goodwin, who is the founder of St Mukasa's in Uganda, which is much smaller than St Jude's in Tanzania.

"Fr Goodwin visited our school to say hello to the staff and students who have been so generous with their support and to meet the excited children who have been working hard to raise funds for his school," said Marta."Fr Goodwin had a great time and enjoyed listening to lots of interesting questions around the needs of the school and the students. The children were amazed when Fr Goodwin explained that the school had no electricity and that lions roam around the outskirts.

"This visit was vital for the children to enable them to develop a meaningful relationship with his school. Due to all their wonderful efforts, we raised enough to replace a dirt-based basketball court with a new hard surface for St Mukasa school.

"It is a wonderful opportunity for students at our school to live out the true Gospel values and to really make a difference."

Photos: Top: Fr Goodwin arrives at St Joseph's Primary School with a big smile ready to meet the children who have been helping his school 'St Mukasa' in Uganda. Bottom: Fr Goodwin tells the children at Joseph’s about life at his school in Uganda.

Photos by Gavin Blue.


Agenzia Fides REPORT - "The rivers have risen and in many parts of the city there were severe floods, the crops have been completely lost, in some villages epidemics are feared, many houses (huts or similar) have collapsed, a church was unroofed and the roofs of several schools have flown away ": these are the first data sent to Fides by Archbishop Gaetano Di Pierro, Bishop of Moramanga, where the damage caused by the cyclone Giovanna, on 13 February, are very serious (see Fides 14/02/2012; 16/02/2012).
"From 8pm to 10pm it started drizzling which gradually increased in intensity. At about10.30pm the wind started shortly after it became violent – says the Bishop -. Now electricity is interrupted and the city fell into darkness. Unable to get in touch with someone, because the telephone lines are not working. One could not see anything but felt that the trees were uprooted as well as metal sheets of many houses. One could not do anything".
"It was an endless night, I spent the whole night praying, thinking of the poor people living in huts - refers Bishop Di Pierro -. About six o'clock in the morning, we saw the disasters in the homes, the Cathedral, the Salle d'oeuvre, the Pastor's house (partly uncovered), but it was still impossible to go out because of the violent wind. At about 8.30, the wind calmed down, but the rain continued. Finally the Little Daughters of the Sacred Heart arrived, who brought the first news of their community: part of the roof was blown away and fell on a house nearby, wounding a young man who was sleeping in his bed. Luckily I managed to take him to hospital. One man found in a neighborhood of the city was reported dead."
Monsignor Di Pierro adds other information on the damage to the Catholic structures in Moramanga. The Carmelite Fathers of the parish of Ambarilava saw their great roof church torn off: the roof plates literally rolled up. The Salesian Sisters complain that the roofs of their kindergarten and fixed podium for the event were shattered. The Sisters Servants of Santa Teresa saw many of their trees uprooted by the fury of the wind, and one fell also on their wall. The Little Daughters of the Servants of the Sacred Heart also reported damage to their hospital. In all these communities crops have been destroyed. The Bishop managed to get in touch with some Centers of missionary districts: "It seems that the town of Andasibe has been seriously damaged due to the flooding of a river and the fall of many trees, several houses were destroyed and 6 deaths were registered. The school in Mahasoa, in the district missionary of Anjiro was literally uncovered. The same thing happened also in the Protestant church in Amboasary, newly built, and the state school in Andaingo".
"One really encouraging thing was to see the people helping to 'heal wounds' caused by the passage of this cyclone, without waiting for aid. In 36 years here in Madagascar, I had already had the experience of 5 cyclones, but this was the first which arrived during the night ... and was worst than the others", concludes Bishop Di Pierro who trusts in everyone’s prayers. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 17/2/2012)


By Ed West on Friday, 17 February 2012
An Irish equivalent to the lay group Catholic Voices has been established.
Catholic Comment, like its British equivalent, has been formed to prepare a team of lay people to speak about the Catholic faith in the media. It is currently looking for potential speakers, and those selected will be offered media training and briefings on topical issues as they prepare for TV and radio appearances.
The project directors will include independent senator Rónán Mullen, former management consultant, Catríona Curran, theology student Maura Garrihy and barrister Lorcán Price.
Petra Conroy, the project co-ordinator, said: “Despite the challenges and crises of recent years, the Catholic faith matters to very many people in Ireland. There are thousands of people with a sincere commitment to the mission and teachings of the Church. Yet the media often has a hard job finding people who can speak confidently.”
Miss Conroy said that the group had received unofficial support already: “We are not an official body. But we aim to support the Church’s own communications efforts by offering a team of well-informed lay people. The Eucharistic Congress will be a time of heightened interest in Catholicism and we will assist journalists looking for people of faith who are ready and able to speak.”
Catholic Voices was established in the run-up to Pope Benedict’s visit in 2010, and Miss Conroy said: “Our style of communication will be very similar.”
Those interested in becoming speakers are invited to contact Petra Conroy before March 6 at


Mark 8: 34 - 38
34 And he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
35 For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.
36 For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?
37 For what can a man give in return for his life?
38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."
1 And he said to them, "Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power."


Members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other religious groups were on Capitol Hill Thursday to stand against the Obama administration's new policy on birth control coverage.
Religious leaders are concerned about the reach of government into the Church.
"The principal is the government reaching in and forcing us to do something," Connecticut Bishop William Lori said. "We might disagree within the Church. We might have our disagreements inside the Church. But it's not the government's job to weigh in and be the arbiter of those things."
The mandate now requires that insurance companies give women access to free birth control no matter where they work.
Initially, the rule would have required religious employers to pay for contraception coverage in their insurance premiums.
Despite the change, many Catholic groups are still unhappy because it only shifted financial responsibility to insurance companies.
Meanwhile, members of Congress who oppose the mandate are taking legislative action.
The Respect for Rights of Conscience Act exempts any employer who has religious or moral objections to the rule, not just religious institutions.
The measure is currently supported by 38 senators and 186 House members.
At a press conference Wednesday, Rep. Peter Roskam, warned that the mandate will "reach in and manipulate the conscience of Americans." Roskam accused President Obama of "trampling precious First Amendment rights."
The White House said exempting groups from having to provide the coverage is '"dangerous and wrong."
During an interview, Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, the country's top Catholic bishop, pledged to fight the rule with legislative and court challenges


Founders of the Orders of Servites
Feast: February 17

Feast Day:February 17
Between the years 1225 and 1227 seven young Florentines joined the Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin—popularly known as the 'Laudesi' or Praisers. It was a period when the prosperous city of Florence was being rent by political factions and distracted by the heresy of the Cathari: it was also a time of general relaxation of morals even where devotional practices were retained. These young men were members of the most prominent families of the city. Whether they were all friends before they joined the Laudesi is not clear, but in that confraternity they became closely allied.

The eldest was Buonfiglio Monaldo, who became their leader. The others were Alexis Falconieri, Benedict dell' Antella, Bartholomew Amidei, Ricovero Uguccione, Gerardino Sostegni, and John Buonagiunta. They had as their spiritual director James of Poggibonsi, who was chaplain of the Laudesi, a man of great holiness and spiritual insight. All of them came to realize the call to a life of renunciation, and they determined to have recourse to our Lady in their perplexity. On the feast of the Assumption, as they were absorbed in prayer, they saw her in a vision, and were inspired by her to withdraw from the world into a solitary place and to live for God alone. There were difficulties, because, though three of them were celibates, four had been married and had ties, although two had become widowers. Suitable provision for their dependents was arranged, and with the approval of the bishop they withdrew from the world and betook themselves to a house called La Carmarzia, outside the gates of Florence, twenty-three days after they had received their call. Before long they found themselves so much disturbed by constant visitors from Florence that they decided to withdraw to the wild and deserted slopes of Monte Senario, where they built a simple church and hermitage and lived a life of almost incredible austerity.
In spite of difficulties, visitors sometimes found their way to the hermits and many wished to join them, but they refused to accept recruits. So they continued to live for several years,—until they were visited by their bishop, Ardingo, and Cardinal Castiglione, who had heard about their sanctity. He was greatly edified, but made one adverse criticism: 'You treat yourselves in a manner bordering on barbarity: and you seem more desirous of dying to time than of living for eternity. Take heed: the enemy of souls often hides himself under the appearance of an angel of light . . . Hearken to the counsels of your superiors.'
Again the solitaries gave themselves up to prayer for light, and again they had a vision of our Lady, who bore in her hand a black habit while an angel held a scroll inscribed with the title of Servants of Mary. She told them she—had chosen them to be her servants, that she wished them to wear the black habit, and to follow the Rule of St. Augustine. From that date, April 13, 1240, they were known as the Servants of Mary, or Servites.
They were clothed by the bishop himself, Buonfiglio being elected their superior. According to custom they selected names by which they should thenceforth be known, and became Brothers Bonfilius, Alexis, Amadeus, Hugh, Sostenes, Manettus and Buonagiunta. By the wish of the bishop, all except St. Alexis, who in his humility begged to be excused, prepared to receive holy orders, and in due time they were fully professed and ordained priests. The new order, which took a form more like that of the mendicant friars than that of the monastic orders, increased amazingly, and it soon became necessary to form fresh houses. Siena, Pistoia and Arezzo were the first places chosen, and afterwards the houses at Carfaggio, the convent and church of the Santissima Annunziata in Florence, and the convent at Lucca were established. Meanwhile, although the Servites had the approval of their immediate superiors, they had not been recognized by the Holy See. It was only in 1259 that the order was practically recognized by Alexander IV, and not until 1304 over sixty years after its foundation-that it received the explicit and formal approbation of Bd. Benedict XI. St. Bonfilius had remained as prior general until 1256, when he begged to be relieved owing to old age. He died on new year's night, 1261.
St. Buonagiunta, the youngest of the seven, was the second prior general, but not long after his election he breathed his last in chapel while the gospel of the Passion was being read. St. Amadeus ruled over the important convent of Carfaggio, but returned to Monte Senario to end his days. St. Manettus became fourth prior general and sent missionaries to Asia, but he retired to make way for St. Philip Benizi, upon whose breast he died. St. Hugh and St. Sostenes went abroad—Sostenes to Paris and Hugh to found convents in Germany. They were recalled in 1276, and, being attacked by illness, they passed away side by side the same night. St. Alexis, the humble lay-brother outlived them all, and he was the only one who survived to see the order fully and finally recognized. He is reported to have died at the age one hundred and ten.